Beware Sin City drunk drivers, "ghosted out" police Ford Explorers are coming for you

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Ahh, gotta love these feel-good stories of cops doing good work.

(At least until all the details are known.)


Drunk driving arrests are one thing, prosecutions are another. I’ve always wondered what the ratio is, though I suspect it’s in the 90 percent range due to people just pleading out.

Interesting to read that a phlebotomist is onboard these (ill-named) “ghost” cop cars for quick blood letting.

Related, I’ve always thought it was disingenuous for the California Haighway Patrol to say they have zero unmarked vehicles. Sure, they have plenty of makes, models and colors of cars, and they all have the logo slapped on the doors and the agency name emblazoned across the back, but they sure do minimize the look of it being a cop car from the front. CHP’s been ‘ghosting’ before ghosting was a thing.


I’m able to recognize the head light design in my rear view mirror. I can spot a Chevy Impala, Dodge Charger, and Ford Explorer. If you see fog lights or factory upgraded rims then it is not the police. Anyone else do this?


These police vehicles are no stranger to Ann Arbor, MI. We’ve had at least one greyed-out Explorer floating around town for about a decade. From what I’ve seen, they’re only after speeders and “hide” on side streets in the same speed-trap locations that cruisers have regularly been found since long before I moved to the area in the '90s. :woman_shrugging:


By this point, after decades of relentless public messaging, the only people driving drunk are actual acloholics and young idiots. In both cases, busting them is not only a major public safety issue, it is also doing them a favor. The young idiots are getting a much needed lesson in being adults, and the alcoholics are getting the kick in the ass that might just lead them to start dealing with their problem.

I know whereof I speak in both instances.


The best pull-over I ever got was from a DUI trap. It was after a late gig running sound at a club and I was going probably 10-15 over. After tailing me for a little bit they hit the lights. A quick “have you been drinking? No I don’t drink” he told me to slow down and have a safe trip home. So focused on his task that he didn’t even bother to write a quick ticket for speeding that I was quite guilty of.

I drove slower after that.


We have these “ghosted” vehicles here and I think its bullshit. There is no inherent good in arresting or punishing people. Preventing crimes benefits society, and if arresting someone makes it less likely to happen again then that is a plus. The job of police should not be punishment. I’m much more in favor of the leaving a highly visible, empty police cruiser parked next to the road to get people to slow down style of enforcement


Former Vegas resident here. It’s incredibly common for Vegas PD to have unmarked vehicles, and they don’t have a singular model by the way. They have some sedans, SUVs and a few other models and most of the time they’re relatively hard to spot if you aren’t actively looking out for them. I always seemed to have a knack for spotting them when i lived there but my advice is just don’t drive like an asshole and be responsible.

Another tactic that Vegas PD loves to do is have a pair of bike cops overlook a highway from a bridge with an off ramp by it, they’ll clock cars speeding from behind where you have no chance of seeing them and they’ll zoom off to pull a hapless driver. So if you ever see an overpass slow down, they don’t usually do this but there are certain spots they like to set up.


My specialty is spotting them from behind. Bumper/window stickers, spoilers, license plate frames, sunroofs, single exhaust pipes or blingy chromed pipes are the tells for non-police police models.


My method for spotting them is that unmarked police vehicles have more antennas (typically will have 2-3), and more beefy looking antennas at that. Also, absolutely zero decals, always immaculately clean, dark tinting, and the license plate will always be a non-standard looking plate


Yep, I can usually do this. My brain usually processes all the headlight images in my rearview looking for telltale models that are typically cop cars. In the 80s, when I was refining this skill, our local cop organization used these Dodge Diplomat or St Regis models which always seemed to have a ‘grill’ or cage around the front parking lights/turn signals. The civilian models didn’t have them, and those cages really stood out at night, making them easy to spot at a distance. The other thing is that cop motorcycles around here tend to have small blue lights on either side of the rear plate, so if you’re approaching a motorcycle from the rear at night, the blue lights are a giveaway.


Headline from the Future: “Fake cop pulls over motorist.”

Police now looking for a cop car that isn’t.


The local tribal PD here has a frame on the rear license plate that says “Smile. I could be behind you.” It’s a marked vehicle, but yeah. Fleet level trim and the ‘cop rims’ are usually dead giveaways that it’s an unmarked car.

(on an unrelated tangent, there’s a civilian car that was clearly an ex-cop car (fleet Crown Vic) in my local area that’s dressed in SCP regalia, which is… amusing. I’ll see if I can get pictures of it.)


The problem is, for people to be scared straight by that kind of thing, the cops have to occasionally make an example of someone, otherwise the fear will fade. And selective enforcement has a tendency to not be entirely random.


I’m VERY sceptical of the notion that a parked “obviously Police” car is going to deter anyone from drunk driving. If they’re going drinking, are they going to stop drinking while still sober? If they’re already drunk and driving, are they going to stop? “Hey no, I’m not drunk, I’m fine!” Much as I suspect police activity, this is going to save lives.
I was in Louisville, Ky, when they brought in the breathalyser there. Oh boy, the bar staff were up in arms. They mounted a protest demo of oh, nearly twenty people. My English colleague and I were shaking our heads - UK has had breathalysers for a long time. Yes, they save lives too.

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I think that for this it’s better to put a speed trap highly visible.
If it’s possible an actual speed trap.
Fake speed traps aren’t going to work, in this case a vehicle slowed down rapidly, but made the fake speed trap inoperative.

And then there’s always some smartass with a barrel and some orange paint…

They really don’t. There was one car parked in the same spot I know of that didn’t move an inch for years and remained effective

I have no problem with drunk drivers being arrested.


Compliance is all well and good, but how are they supposed to get a rage boner without the occasional bullying of someone face to face?